|View single post by Wrap10|
|Posted: Sat Aug 23rd, 2008 04:15 pm||
|I actually agree about the fugitive slave issue from the Compromise - that was an important milestone on the road leading to the war - although I'm not sure we can pin down the exact moment the fuse was lit that resulted in the explosion in 1861. Like Texas Defender said at one point, I tend to think the elements that led to the war were present for quite some time. Even going back to before the country was a country.
Looking back, it's obvious that there were numerous times where different decisions here or there could have changed history to the point that this conversation and even this discussion board itself would not exist. Even going back to well before the 1850's. There is a lot of irony about that, because several times, I think the decisions that were made were not simply intended to pass the buck to future generations. They were intended to either solve the problem altogether, or set slavery on the road to eventual extinction on this continent.
Perhaps the real turning point came somewhere in the 1820's or 1830's, when slavery began to transform in the collective mind of the South from a "necessary evil" to something that had to be defended as a "positive good." To some extent, although how much I'm not sure, this change probably came about due to attacks on slavery from the North. Although that does not totally explain it, or let the South off the hook. Both sides were to blame for the events that ended in the war, in my view. But the main point is that the change took place, and it made any potential agreements designed to end slavery that much harder to reach.
The enormous amount of territory acquired at the end of the Mexican War brought the issue into stark relief, since the country was clearly going to expand. As Texas Defender pointed out, the question was whether slavery would expand with it. That does seem to be the point where the train began rolling downhill at an increasingly alarming speed, riding along with some very shaky brakes.
On the fugitive slave issue, one thing I think is noteworthy about that is how it points to a role-reversal between North and South on the issue of states rights vs. the federal government. Traditionally the South has always been viewed as the bastion of states rights. But there were times when southern leaders were willing to accept a stronger federal government at the expense of states rights. And one of the classic examples, and probably the most classic example of all, is the fugitive slave issue of the 1850's.
This is already turning into a novel so I'll leave it there for now. But I do agree that this issue aroused the North rather strongly. It was just one of the many issues that began to spin the two sections further and further toward opposite ends of the room, until nothing remained in the middle but a giant vacuum waiting to be filled.